Designed to help patients explain the range of symptoms to doctors, the app launched by Healthcare Improvement Scotland allows doctors to download details from patients symptoms diaries so they can provide care and treatment they need.
Around 132,000 Scots live with the illness known as long covid, which sees them suffer a range of symptoms including severe fatigue or post-exertion malaise (PEM), shortness of breath, myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, joint pain, headaches, rashes. Long covid patients can also develop anxiety and depression, as a result of the severity of physical symptoms they endure.
Long covid is a condition where people who have had the virus, with or without a positive test, have ongoing symptoms that last more than four weeks.
The condition can affect adults, children and young people. Some have been ill for more than a year and can see ongoing or new symptoms that change and come and go over time.
But patients are having to push to get the right care and treatment, campaigners have warned. It has prompted demands for urgent action to help sufferers, after the number of Scots who have had symptoms for a year or more recently rose to 59,000.
Chris White who has long COVID said the app will improve understanding among doctors of the hidden, often misunderstood illness.
“I expected I would recover from covid with very few problems, but that wasn't the case. There were unexplained symptoms that would come and go, tiredness, fatigue, mental exhaustion, unexplained aches and pains and this confusion of memory fog. How do you explain that to a doctor? How do you explain the full impact of an illness that you can't even see, an illness that has so many symptoms that no one day is the same?
"On my worst days, I don't have the energy to write down my symptoms, let alone try to explain them to a doctor. I hope that having an easy-to-use symptom tracker will help me explain what I am experiencing, and then work on solutions to managing my illness.”
The app is based on a UK clinical guideline for long Covid which Healthcare Improvement Scotland worked on along with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) in England and the Royal College of General Practitioners.
Mabli Godden has Long COVID and advised on the development of the app. Mabli said:
“At a time that can be uncertain and distressing it is positive to see a tool which at once gives us the opportunity to keep all our symptoms and concerns in one place and takes the onus of co-ordinating care off of patients.”
Dr David Blane, of the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow helped draw up the guideline. He said: “There are thousands of people with long Covid across Scotland and many are not getting the healthcare support they need.
“This app, and the symptom diary in particular, should help people with long Covid to monitor and discuss their symptoms with healthcare professionals, improving mutual
understanding of their condition and hopefully improving that support.”